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June 20, 2023

King Cosponsors Bill to Expand Internet and Cell Connectivity in National Parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Chair of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee, is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to increase broadband and cellular service within U.S. National Parks. The Connect Our Parks Act would direct each National Park to assess where broadband service is needed and develop plans to increase service access. The legislation represents a critical step forward in improving public safety within national parks and promote the hiring and retaining of qualified employees for the National Park Service.

“America’s National Parks provide great opportunities to enjoy nature, but when emergencies happen, visitors should have modern connections to receive help,” said Senator King. “The Connect Our Parks Act is a commonsense effort to improve access to emergency services, assist Park Rangers responding to crises, and expand growing digital services like park navigation. I look forward to our continued efforts to improve Maine and America’s great outdoors.”

Additional cosponsors of the act include U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

The Connect Our Parks Act would:

  1. Direct each of the National Parks to assess where service, both internet service and cellular service, is lacking within the park.
    1. For broadband, areas of study should include housing, administrative facilities and related structures, and campgrounds.
    2. For cellular service, areas should be identified that would increase the public’s access to emergency services and would increase the communications capabilities of Park Rangers.
  2. Require each park to develop a plan to increase broadband and cellular service based on the results of the assessment.
    1. Require the plan to provide minimal disruptions to viewsheds, land, and wildlife.
    2. In developing the plan, parks must consult with relevant stakeholders, plan in a technology-neutral way, and provide a minimum internet service speed of 100/20 Mbps.
  3. Direct each park to utilize public-private partnerships to install and provide the telecommunications service.

As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Senator King has been a long-time advocate for preserving public land. King was the 2020 recipient of the National Park Foundation’s first ever “Hero” Award for his leadership in passing the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and his lifelong dedication to environmental stewardship and advocacy. King’s work extends from prior to running for elected office, through his years as Governor—where he was responsible for conserving more land across Maine than all prior Governors combined—to his current service in the Senate.

King has additionally been a strong supporter of expanding broadband access to increase connectivity across rural Maine and across the country. He, along with the Maine delegation, recently co-sponsored the infrastructure law to provide more than $30 million to support universal broadband access in Maine. Previously, King cosponsored the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy Act to deploy affordable broadband networks nationwide. During the pandemic, he urged the White House to include funding for broadband in the coronavirus relief package and joined other Senators in encouraging the FCC to administer the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) to address the longstanding digital divide.


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